I started playing today. There are two key decisions early on: whether to make a size 1 settler or not and whether to go for Monarchy or Mapmaking first. Given that Mapmaking is not available as the first tech due to tech hiding, the only way to get it done as the second tech before you accumulate 40 shields is to work fish instead of whale in effect losing 2 shields per turn. With no meaningful use for units on this part of the map, to me the alternatives to size-1 settler were next to useless and thus I chose that. For the next decision I chose to go after Monarchy instead of mapmaking. This delayed my expansion but I think it is worthwhile because otherwise Monarchy would have been delayed a lot. I might have reconsidered if it was not for the fact that expansion stops at 3 cities till you make lighthouse. The key decision after lighthouse is which direction to expand. Tiny islands are available in all directions. Shall we go for unsettled New Zealand, unsettled Hawaii, or one of the major settled land pieces?